Police Raid Polling Stations During Vote On Catalan Secession From Spain

BARCELONA (CBSNewYork/CBS News/AP) — Catalan president Carles Puigdemont says Catalonia “has won the right to become an independent state,” following a vote that Spanish police tried to stop with raids.

Speaking on television Sunday from Barcelona after polling stations closed in the northeastern region in Spain, Puigdemont said “today the Spanish state wrote another shameful page in its history with Catalonia.”

He also said he will keep his pledge to declare independence unilaterally if the “Yes” side wins the referendum.

Later, a Catalan official said preliminary results for the referendum Sunday showed 90 percent in favor of independence. Catalan regional government spokesman Jordi Turull told reporters early Monday local time that 90 percent of the 2.26 million Catalans who voted Sunday chose the `Yes’ side in favor of independence.

He said nearly 8 percent of voters rejected independence and the rest of the ballots were blank or void. He said 15,000 votes were still being counted.

Turull said the number of ballots did not include those confiscated by Spanish police during violent raids Sunday that aimed to stop the vote. At least 844 people and 33 police were injured in the police raids.

The region has 5.3 million voters.

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Spanish riot police smashed their way into polling stations across Catalonia to try and stop Sunday’s referendum, sometimes beating and kicking voters.

Spain’s top court had suspended the vote but local authorities went ahead anyway.

Puigdemont said he would “make a direct appeal to the European Union” to look into alleged human rights violations by the Spanish government Sunday.

As voting ended, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said Catalans had been fooled into taking part in an “illegal” vote, calling it a “mockery” to Democracy, BBC News reports.

Meanwhile, one of Spain’s two main two labor unions has called for a general strike in Catalonia on Tuesday to protest the police violence.

The CCOO union says it has called the strike “to condemn the violence employed by security forces of the state to stop the referendum.” The union has also called for protests Monday at noon in front of town halls across Catalonia.

Jordi Cuixart, leader of separatist group Omnium, also urged a general strike in Catalonia on Tuesday.

No one knows precisely what will happen if Catalan officials use the vote — chaotic as it was — as a basis for declaring the northeastern region independent, a provocative move that would threaten Spain with the possible loss of one of its most prosperous regions, including the popular coastal city of Barcelona, the regional capital.

(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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